A critical member of the cardiovascular surgery team, the Perfusionist, is skilled in operating the complicated machinery that takes over the work usually done by the patient’s heart and lungs. Victims of heart and respiratory failure, as well as patients undergoing open-heart surgery or other serious operations, depend on the skills of the Perfusionist. Perfusionists perform a variety of challenging and critical tasks including operating heart-lung machines, monitoring the blood during perfusion, and administering medicine and even anesthesia when needed to control the patient’s circulatory or respiratory function.
To become a certified clinical perfusionist, an individual must first have a bachelor of science degree and then complete a one or two year perfusion education program that has been accredited by the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation. Formal educational programs in perfusion technology range from one to two years in length and require the supervised performance of 150 procedures. Although some programs lead to a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or post-baccalaureate certificate, most award an associate degree in medical technology or a related area. Graduates who pass an examination earn the Certified Clinical Perfusionist credential (CCP).